The Longer Catechism: Part I (283-350)

The Longer Catechism
of The Orthodox Church

also known as the Catechism of
St. Philaret (Drozdov) of Moscow


ON FAITH (Continued)

On the Tenth Article.

283. Why does the Creed mention Baptism?

Because faith is sealed by Baptism, and the other Mysteries or Sacraments.

284. What is a Mystery or Sacrament?

A Mystery or Sacrament is a holy act, through which grace, or, in other words, the saving power of God, works mysteriously upon man.

285. How many are the Sacraments?

Seven: 1. Baptism; 2. Unction with Chrism; 3. Communion; 4. Penitence; 5. Orders; 6. Matrimony; 7. Unction with Oil.

286. What virtue is there in each of these Sacraments?

1. In Baptism man is mysteriously born to a spiritual life.

2. In Unction with Chrism he receives a grace of spiritual growth and strength.

3. In the Communion he is spiritually fed.

4. In Penitence he is healed of spiritual diseases, that is, of sin.

5. In Orders he receives grace spiritually to regenerate, feed, and nurture others, by doctrine and Sacraments.

6. In Matrimony he receives a grace sanctifying the married life, and the natural procreation and nurture of children.

7. In Unction with Oil he has medicine even for bodily diseases, in that he is healed of spiritual.

287. But why does not the Creed mention all these Sacraments, instead of mentioning Baptism only?

Because Baptism was the subject of a question, whether some people, as heretics, ought not to be rebaptized; and this required a decision, which so came to be put into the Creed.

On Baptism.

288. What is Baptism?

Baptism is a Sacrament, in which a man who believes, having his body thrice plunged in water in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, dies to the carnal life of sin, and is born again of the Holy Spirit to a life spiritual and holy. Except a, man be born of water and, of the Spirit, he can not enter into the kingdom of God. (John iii. 5.)

289. When and how began Baptism?

First, John baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on Him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. (Acts xix. 4. )Afterwards, Jesus Christ, by His own example, sanctified Baptism, when He received it from John. Lastly, after His resurrection, He gave the Apostles this solemn commandment: Go ye and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. (Matt. xxviii. 19.)

290. What is most essential in the administration of Baptism?

Trine immersion in water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

291. What is required of him that seeks to be baptized?

Repentance and faith; for which cause, also, before Baptism the? recite the Creed. Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts ii. 38.) He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. (Mark xvi. 16.)

292. But why, then, are children baptized?

For the faith of their parents and sponsors, who are also bound to teach them the faith so soon as they are of sufficient age to learn.

293. How can you show from holy Scripture that we ought to baptize infants?

In the time of the Old Testament, infants were circumcised when eight days old; but Baptism in the New Testament takes the place of circumcision; consequently infants should also be baptized.

294. Whence does it appear that Baptism takes the place of circumcision?

From the following words of the Apostle to believers: Ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in Baptism. (Coloss. ii. 11, 12.)

295. Why are there sponsors at Baptism?

In order that they may stand sureties before the Church for the faith of the baptized, and after Baptism may take him in charge, to confirm him in the faith. (See Dion. Areop. on the Eccl. Hier. cap. ii.)

296. Why before baptizing do we use exorcism?

To drive away the devil, who since Adam's fall has had access to men, and power over them, as his captives and slaves.

The Apostle Paul says, that all men, without grace, walk according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience. (Eph. ii. 2.)

297. Wherein lies the force of exorcism?

In the name of Jesus Christ, invoked with prayer and faith. Jesus Christ gave to believers this promise: In my name shall they cast out devils. (Mark xvi. 17.)

298. What force has the sign of the cross used on this and other occasions?

What the name of Jesus Christ crucified is when pronounced with faith by motion of the lips, the very same is also the sign of the cross when made with faith by motion of the hand, or represented in any other way.

Cyril of Jerusalem writes: Let us not be ashamed to confess the Crucified; let us boldly make the sign of the Cross on the forehead, and on every thing; on the bread which we eat; on the cups from which we drink; let us make it at our going out, and coming in; when we lie down to sleep, and when we rise; when we journey, and when we rest: it is a great safeguard, given to the poor without price, to the weak without labor. For this is the grace of God; a token for the faithful, and a terror for evil spirits. (Cat. Lect. xiii. 36.)

299. Whence have we the use of the sign of the Cross?

From the very times of the Apostles. (See Dion. Areop. on the Eccl. Hier. cap. ii. and v.; also Tertull. de Coron. cap. iii.; de Resurr. cap. viii.)

300. What means the white garment which is put on after Baptism?

The purity of the soul, and of the Christian life.

301. Why do they hang upon the baptized a Cross?

As a visible expression and continual remembrance of Christ's command: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. Matt. xvi. 24.

302. What means the procession of the baptized round the font with a light?

Spiritual joy, joined with spiritual illumination.

303. How is this to be understood, that in the Creed we are made to confess one Baptism?

In this sense: that Baptism can not be repeated.

304. Why can not Baptism be repeated?

Baptism is spiritual birth: a man is born but once; therefore he is also baptized but once.

305. What is to be thought of those who sin after Baptism?

That they are more guilty in their sins than the unbaptized, since they had from God special help to do well, and have thrown it away.

For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. (2 Peter ii. 20.)

306. But is there not any way even for such as have sinned after Baptism to obtain pardon?

There is a way, which is penitence.

On Unction with Chrism.

307. What is Unction with Chrism?

Unction with Chrism is a Sacrament, in which the baptized believer, being anointed with holy chrism on certain parts of the body in the name of the Holy Spirit, receives the gifts of the Holy Spirit for growth and strength in spiritual life.

308. Is this Sacrament mentioned in holy Scripture?

The inward grace of this Sacrament is spoken of by the Apostle John, as follows: But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. And the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you; but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie; and even as it hath taught you, abide therein. (1 John ii. 20, 27.)

In like manner the Apostle Paul also says: Now He which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. (2 Cor. i. 21, 22.)

Hence are taken the words pronounced at the Unction: The seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit.

309. Is the outward form of Unction with Chrism mentioned in holy Scripture?

It may well be supposed that the words of St. John refer to a visible as well as to an inward unction; but it is more certain that the Apostles, for imparting to the baptized the gifts of the Holy Spirit, used imposition of hands. Acts viii. 14, 16. The successors of the Apostles, however, in place of this, introduced unction with chrism, drawing, it may be, their precedent from the unction used in the Old Testament. (Exod. xxx. 25; 1 Kings i. 39. [3 Kings i. 39. in the Greek)](Dion. Areop. de Eccl. Hier. cap. iv.)

310. What is to be remarked of the holy Chrism?

This: that its consecration is reserved to the heads of the Hierarchy, as successors of the Apostles, who used the laying on of their own hands to communicate the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

311. What is specially signified by anointing the forehead?

The sanctification of the mind, or thoughts.

312. What by anointing the chest?

The sanctification of the heart, or desires.

313. What by anointing the eyes, ears, and lips?

The sanctification of the senses.

314. What by anointing the hands and feet?

The sanctification of the works and whole walk of the Christian.

On the Communion

315. What is the Communion?

The Communion is a Sacrament, in which the believer, under the forms of bread and wine, partakes of the very Body and Blood of Christ, to everlasting life.

316. How was this Sacrament instituted?

Jesus Christ, immediately before His passion, consecrated it for the first time, exhibiting in it by anticipation a lively image of His sufferings for our salvation; and after having administered it to the Apostles, He gave them at the same time a commandment ever after to perpetuate this Sacrament.

317. What is to be noticed of the Sacrament of the Communion in regard to divine service in the Church?

This: that it forms the chief and most essential part of divine service.

318. What is the name of that service in which the Sacrament of the Communion is consecrated?

The Liturgy.

319. What means the word Liturgy?

Common service, but the name Liturgy is specially appropriated to that divine service in which the Sacrament of the Communion is consecrated.

320. What is to be noted of the place where the Liturgy is celebrated?

It must always be consecrated in a temple, the table in which, or at least, if there be no such table, the antimense on which the Sacrament is consecrated, must have been consecrated by a Bishop.

321. Why is the temple called a church?

Because the faithful, who compose the Church, meet in it for prayer and Sacraments.

322. Why is the table, on which the Sacrament of the Communion is consecrated, called the throne?

Because on it Jesus Christ, as King, is mystically present.

323. What general order of parts may be remarked in the Liturgy?

This: that first the elements are prepared for the Sacrament; secondly, the faithful are prepared for the Sacrament; lastly, the Sacrament itself is consecrated.

324. What is the name for that part of the Liturgy in which the elements are prepared for the Sacrament?

Proskomidè, προσκομιδή.

325. What is the meaning of the word Proskomidè?


326. Why is this name given to the first part of the Liturgy?

From the custom of the primitive Christians to offer in the Church bread and wine for the celebration of the Sacrament. On the same account this bread is called prosphora, which means oblation.

327. In what consists the Offertory, as a part of the Liturgy?

In this: that with mention made of the prophecies and types, and partly also of the events themselves, relating to the birth and suffering of Jesus Christ, a portion is taken from the prosphora for use in the Sacrament, and likewise a portion of wine mixed with water is poured off into the holy chalice, while the celebrator makes commemoration of the whole Church, honors the glorified saints, prays for the living and the departed, especially for the ruling powers, and for those who, of their own faith and zeal, have brought prosphoræ, or oblations.

328. Of what kind should be the bread for the Sacrament?

Such as the name itself of bread, the holiness of the Mystery, and the example of Jesus Christ and the Apostles all require; that is, leavened, pure, wheaten bread.

329. What is signified by this, that the bread or loaf which is strictly to be used for the Communion is only one?

It signifies, as the Apostle explains, that we, being many, are one bread, and one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread.( l Cor.x.17.)

330. Why is the bread, when prepared for the Communion, called the Lamb?

Because it is the figure of Jesus Christ suffering, as was in the Old Testament the Paschal Lamb.

331. What was the Paschal Lamb?

The lamb which the Israelites, by God's command, killed and ate in memory of their deliverance from destruction in Egypt.

332. Why is the wine for the Sacrament of the Communion mixed with water?

Because the whole of this celebration is ordered so as to figure forth the sufferings of Christ; and when He suffered there flowed from His pierced side blood and water.

333. What name has that part of the Liturgy in which the faithful are prepared for the Sacrament?

The ancients called it the Liturgy of the Catechumens; because, besides baptized communicants, the catechumens, also, who are preparing for Baptism, and the penitents, who are not admitted to communion, may be present at it.

334. With what does this part of the Liturgy begin?

With the Blessing, or glorification of the Kingdom of the Most Holy Trinity.

335. In what consists this part of the Liturgy?

In prayers, singing, and reading from the books of the Apostles, and from the Gospel.

336. With what does it end?

With the order given to the catechumens to go out and leave the church.

337. What is the name for that part of the Liturgy in which the Sacrament itself is celebrated and consecrated?

The Liturgy of the Faithful; because the faithful only, that is, the baptized, have the right to be present at this service.

338. What is the most essential act in this part of the Liturgy?

The utterance of the words which Jesus Christ spake in instituting the Sacrament: Take, eat; this is my body. Drink ye all of it; for this is my Blood of the New Testament. Matt. xxvi. 26, 27, 28. And after this the invocation of the Holy Spirit, and the blessing the gifts, that is, the bread and wine which have been offered.

339. Why is this so essential?

Because at the moment of this act the bread and wine are changed, or transubstantiated, into the very Body of Christ, and into the very Blood of Christ.

340. How are we to understand the word transubstantiation?

In the exposition of the faith by the Eastern Patriarchs, it is said that the word transubstantiation is not to be taken to define the manner in which the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of the Lord; for this none can understand but God; but only thus much is signified, that the bread truly, really, and substantially becomes the very true Body of the Lord, and the wine the very Blood of the Lord. In like manner John Damascene, treating of the Holy and Immaculate Mysteries of the Lord, writes thus: It is truly that Body, united with Godhead, which had its origin from the Holy Virgin; not as though that Body which ascended came down from heaven, but because the bread and wine themselves are changed into the Body and Blood of God. But if thou seekest after the manner how this is, let it suffice thee to be told that it is by the Holy Spirit; in like manner as, by the same Holy Spirit, the Lord formed flesh to Himself, and in Himself, from the Mother of God; nor know I aught more than this, that the Word of God is true, powerful, and almighty, but its manner of operation unsearchable. (J. Damasc. Theol. lib. iv. cap. 13, § 7.)

341. What is required individually of every one who desires to approach the Sacrament of the Communion?

To examine his conscience before God, and to cleanse it from sin by penitence; for doing which he has helps in fasting and prayer.

Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup; for he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's Body. (1 Cor. xi. 28, 29.)

342. What benefit does he receive who communicates in the Body and Blood of Christ?

He is in the closest manner united to Jesus Christ Himself, and, in Him, is made partaker of everlasting life.

He that eateth my Flesh, and drinketh my Blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. (John vi. 56. ) Whoso eateth my Flesh, and drinketh my Blood, hath eternal life. (John vi. 54.)

343. Ought we to communicate often in the holy Mysteries?

The primitive Christians communicated every Lord's Day; but now few have such purity of life as to be always prepared to approach so great a Mystery. Our Mother the Church calls on all, who would live religiously, to confess before their ghostly Father, and communicate in the Body and Blood of Christ, four times yearly, or even every month, but requires all, without exception, to receive it at the least once in the year. (See Orthod. Confess. Pt. I. Q. 90.)

344. What part can they have in the divine Liturgy who only hear it without approaching the holy Communion?

They may and should take part in the Liturgy by prayer and faith, and especially by a continual remembrance of our Lord Jesus Christ, who expressly has commanded us to do this in remembrance of him. (Luke xxii. 19.)

345. What should we remember at that time in the Liturgy when they make the Procession with the Gospel?

Jesus Christ appearing to preach the Gospel. So also while the Gospel is reading, we should have the same attention and reverence as if we saw and heard Jesus Christ Himself.

346. What should we remember at that time in the Liturgy when they make the Procession with the gifts from the table of preparation to the altar?

Jesus Christ going to suffer voluntarily, as a victim to the slaughter, while more than twelve legions of angels were ready around to guard him as their King.

The King of kings, and Lord of lords, cometh to be slaughtered. (Hymn for the Liturgy on the Great Sabbath.)

347. What should we remember at the moment of the consecration of the Sacrament, and while the clergy are communicating within the altar?

The mystical supper of Jesus Christ Himself with His Apostles; His suffering, death, and burial.

348. What is set forth after this, by the drawing back of the veil, the opening of the royal doors, and the appearance of the holy gifts?

The appearance of Jesus Christ Himself after His resurrection.

349. What is figured by the last showing of the holy gifts to the people, after which they are hid from view?

The ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven.

350. Will the use of the Sacrament of the holy Communion continue ever in the true Church of Christ?

Assuredly it will ever continue, even to Christ's coming again, agreeably to the words of the Apostle Paul: For as oft as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show forth the Lord's death till He come. (1 Cor. xi. 26.)